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Liszt: Harmonies du soir

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Audio CD, May 17, 2011
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Liszt: Harmonies du soir + Chopin: The Nocturnes + Chopin: Etudes Op.10 / Piano Sonata No 2
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Product Details

  • Performer: Nelson Freire
  • Composer: Franz Liszt
  • Audio CD (May 17, 2011)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Decca Records
  • ASIN: B004I7MCHU
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #144,949 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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27 of 31 people found the following review helpful By P. Adrian on July 12, 2011
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
2011 marks 200 years since Franz Liszt's birth. Therefore it is a truly anniversary year in the musical world. Consequently, many of the keyboard top-virtuosos decided to commit to the disc their approaches to the most virtuosic of the romantic music. Nelson Freire's recent recording stands as a celebratory bow to an undisputed genial composer. And the results are deeply satisfying not only for his aficionados but - I expect - for lots of audiences world over.

Virtuosity and soulfulness, incandescent touch and exploration of a deep sensitivity, these pieces span a large gamut of moods. Freire used to be considered as a refined interpreter of Chopin (his many recordings devoted to the great Polish romantic confirming it sparklingly). This particularity is felt in the present recording. His Liszt gains a reflective sweetness, deepens and softens even the most demanding proceedings. What a stunning account of the Petrarca Soneto 104! What a serene melancholy in images of Au Lac de Wallenstadt! What a light survey in Consolation no.3, so well-known and over recorded lyrical miniature, but so freshly and inspired read here!

This recent lisztian achievement of Nelson Freire - I am sure - will be missed by no genuine piano music lover. Its deeply felt rendition exerts a magical halo to all those who know what piano playing is about. Reccomended!
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29 of 34 people found the following review helpful By RPD on August 17, 2011
Format: Audio CD
Nelson's soft and tender touch does this album and Franz Liszt great justice. However, unlike some, such as our Santa Fe Listener here, Liszt was not all bravado or "hollow showmanship."

Worse yet, calling Liszt the "P.T. Barnum of the piano" without balancing that comment with Liszt's deep philosophical side, or sublimely religious side, or any of the other magnificent sides of this multifaceted gem is not only disrespectful to this ultimate genius and leader of the Romantic Era, but it perpetuates the false claims and ignorance that prevails to this day. As such, I must break in my review here for a moment to address this important issue.

Was Liszt a showman? Yes. But he was also a great deal more, and he just so happened to be the greatest showman of his day, one that could dazzle, yet also lull his audience into an otherworldly veil of paradise, as even Chopin admitted when he said, "I am writing without knowing what my pen is scribbling, because at this moment Liszt is playing my études and putting honest thoughts out of my head. I should like to rob him of the way he plays my études."

Hence, Liszt was not some shallow, hollow, circus clown--he was the supremely gifted, raw, yet refined, ball of fire and grace that burst out upon his era like Prometheus, giving mankind the fire to scorch and burn, yet also the fire to burn within our hearts, releasing some of the most heartfelt and sincere evocations of the human experience ever to grace the keyboard.

Additionally, that the Marx Brothers, Tom & Jerry and Bugs Bunny all relished Liszt's more carnivalesque pieces (namely his Hungarian Rhapsody No.2) and used it to great rollicking effect, is a compliment of the highest order, and not some derogatory slur of Liszt's character or talents.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
This will undoubtedly be one of the standout releases in Liszt's bicentennial year, a recital of mostly old favorites done with extraordinary finesse. Now 66, the great Brazilian pianist Nelson Freire here summarizes a lifetime's devotion to style over technique. He applies to Liszt the same suppleness and thoughtful reflection that belongs to composers like Chopin and Schumann, without regard for Liszt's reputation for vulgarity and hollow rhetoric. Ultimately, music is only as good as it is performed, and Freire's ease, flow, and naturalness remove any hint of hollow showmanship. Yet unlike Brnedel and others who rob Liszt's music of its fun, this isn't a demonstration in reducing the P.T. Barnum of the piano to a sobersides.

Freire's playing is full-blooded and imaginative. Soft passages are phrased as if they came from Chopin's Nocturnes. More rhapsodic passages are phrased with the improvisation Freire displays when he plays Schumann's Carnaval. The selections on this disc derive from many sources, but I particularly love the ones from the Annees de pelerinage: Freire's version of "Au lac de Wallenstadt" is as seductive and dreamy as Chopin's Barcarolle. Phrasing and touch are really the greatest gifts of this pianist, especially as he ages and his experience deepens into the kind of effortless lyricism that turns the piano into a singing instrument. Of percussiveness there's no trace; one is reminded of Grigory Ginzburg's silken touch. Some may find the spontaneity too free, however: "Waldesrauschen" and the Hungarian Rhapsody no. 3 flow like water, careless about staying within its banks.

The most unusual selections, perhaps, are the six Consolations, subtitled "poetic thoughts," first composed between 1844 and 1848; Freire plays the revised version S. 172 from 1849-50.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Edgregious on December 23, 2013
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Liszt is a member of the classical canon who isn't going away anytime soon, and it is a cliche to say something like "You know, underneath his showy technique, Liszt really had something to say", but...

If you had any doubts on the subject, this album should dispel them!

There is technique here, but not one bit of it seems superfluous or doesn't add something to the performance - a feat for which Nelson Freire must of course share the credit with the composer. This is a stunningly beautiful recording.

I'll also mention - in case somebody shares this pet peeve - that the audio engineers had the good sense to move their microphones back far enough from the piano so the music sounds like something you might hear around the middle of the house in a recital hall. I own a recording of the Transcendental Etudes - top label/top artist - which sounds like it was recorded by a microphone hung from the ceiling about one foot over a grand piano with the lid removed! You can hear every stray click and extraneous noise in the action. This is a very misguided notion of authenticity - who the heck wants to hear all that!? The only way such a technique might be appropriate is if you planned to replace a piano on the stage of a hall with a speaker and listen to the recording from the house - the stray noises might add some subtle note of realism, though you could no longer consciously hear them. But I've never heard of anybody - even eccentric nobility who presumably could have made it happen - who thought the best way to listen to a piano recital was to be hung from the ceiling with your ear a foot over the strings; and there have been some very eccentric nobility!

Don't recall that label right off - but don't think it was Decca. Maybe there is something in label branding...
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Liszt: Harmonies du soir
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